Guest Post: Art Imitates Life by Jennifer Walker
Work: day off.
Jennifer Walker is on a virtual book tour promoting her new book, Bubba to the Rescue. During her VBT, Jennifer is appearing at various sites around the Internet [full schedule under Upcoming Events]. Just as much work. Fewer airports. Welcome Jennifer:
They say art imitates life, and in the case of my art (horsey fiction for the tween set), that is certainly true. While I greatly admire the people who can come up with a completely new world that is nothing like the world we live in, I just don’t seem to be wired that way. I suppose I COULD do it if I really wanted to, but I see so much inspiration in the world around me, I have enough stories eating away at me without having the drive to create a new land.
My first book, Bubba Goes National, was born in an Internet chat room. The chat room was part of an Arabian horse discussion board, and I had decided I would write a book. There aren’t many tween horsey books specifically about Arabians, nor are there many about saddle seat riding, so it seemed like a good niche.
I was the kind of kid whose parents didn’t have a lot of money for fancy horse trainers and trucks and trailers and the whole bit, and even as an adult I’ve never had even close to the kind of money you really need to do the show circuit right. Therefore, I wanted my main character to be a little like me…but with even more drive and more opportunities. She’s a better rider than I am, too! I talked about it with my friends in the chat room that day, and the story of a girl who lives with her widowed father and earns her riding lessons by working for her trainer was born. As the title suggests, she ends up making it all the way to Arabian Youth Nationals.
Once Bubba Goes National was finally published, it was time to write a sequel. I talked to my husband and my friend/mentor Michy (they help me with all of my story ideas) and tossed some ideas around. I don’t want to give too much away about the story, but bits of it came from stories I’d seen on the news or in online horse discussion boards. For book three, which is not quite finished, I was inspired by a local girl with cerebral palsy who not only rides horses but earned a National Top Ten in dressage. Impressive!
All of my characters have a little bit of someone I know in them. While Leslie’s dad isn’t very much like my own father, he does like to tease her, just like mine. I’ve mentioned how there’s a bit of me in Leslie. Helen’s personality and the way she works is inspired by a trainer I used to work for, although of course she’s changed quite a bit and looks completely different.
People love to ask writers where our ideas come from. Inspiration is all around us. The day before I wrote this post, I got two ideas that are completely outside of my normal genre–one is a sci-fi thriller set in the future that came out of a blues song I heard (rectify that one!), and the other is a mystery based on a story I heard from a friend of a friend two years ago…but something my husband said reminded me of the story and a whole twist on the tale just jumped into my brain.
If you want to write but can never seem to come up with a story, start with something small. Look around your house or walk down the street or sit at a sidewalk cafe. Watch the people, study the objects. See what story you can come up with for just one of those people or things. When all else fails, hit up one of those ultra creative types in your life to use as a sounding board.
Where do you find inspiration?
Be sure to give your answer. At the end of the book tour, one commenter from this post, chosen at random, will get a free download of Jennifer’s short story Leslie and the Lion RS